Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today's Links

“We are seriously concerned about the decision of the US administration to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), thereby committing a significant violation of Security Council resolution 2231." Sergie Lavrov 


While the Committee found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government, the investigation did find poor judgment and ill-considered actions by the Trump and Clinton campaigns,” the report states. 


Washington, DC – “I don’t think there is an implicit obligation for the United States to follow like a stupid mule whatever the Israelis do,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski. “If they decide to start a war, simply on the assumption that we’ll automatically be drawn into it, I think it is the obligation of friendship to say, ‘you’re not going to be making national decision for us.’ I think that the United States has the right to have its own national security policy.”
Speaking before a conference sponsored jointly by the Arms Control Association and the National Iranian American Council, Brzezinski effectively ruled out a U.S. or Israel attack on Iran as “an act of utter irresponsibility” that would mean “the region would literally be set aflame.” He warned that a policy based on such unrealistic options ultimately undermined U.S. credibility.


Predictably, we are back to the late Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard.
“…Potentially the most dangerous scenario would be an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances … a grand coalition of China, Russia, perhaps Iran … reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time, China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower,” he wrote. “Averting this contingency … will require US geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously. pepe escobar



1--America First, or Israel First?

Let’s drop the pretenses and tell it like it really is: this is being done for the benefit of Bibi Netanyahu and his amen corner in the United States. For all the brouhaha about foreign influence in American politics, the pundits are eerily silent as the Israel lobby succeeds in an all out effort to drag us into their conflict with Iran. The “special relationship” has gotten much more special in recent months, according to reports. Trump recently sent Ivanka and Jared to Israel to inaugurate the opening of the Jerusalem embassy, with casino billionaire and pro-Israel fanatic Sheldon Adelson in tow. Adelson gave millions to the Trump campaign  and the GOP. While Trump rose to power as a critic of the Iraq war, and, by implication, George W. Bush’s Israel-centric foreign policy, he has now positioned himself to replicate Dubya’s mistakes – times ten.

2--Which Path to Persia?  Brookings (regime change manual)

3--Trump-Kim talks move ahead

A particular concern of China is the THAAD missile defence systems that the US has deployed in Japan and South Korea on the pretext of providing protection against North Korean attacks. In reality, the THAAD batteries are part of the US preparations for a potential nuclear war with China. In the event of a US “first strike,” the anti-missile systems are intended to shoot down any nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched in retaliation by the Chinese military.
There is little doubt that Beijing will have sought to pressure Pyongyang to make the removal of the THAAD system one of the conditions for any agreement over “denuclearisation.”

North Korea been brought to the brink of economic collapse by sanctions, above all because China, for its own reasons, has assisted the US to enforce them. The Pyongyang regime is signalling that it is prepared to submit to Washington’s demands in exchange for guarantees that its corrupt ruling clique remains in power and its wealth is protected. It is indicating, however, that it will propose a timeframe for so-called denuclearisation that stretches out over a protracted period, even decades.

North Korea also wants a formal peace treaty with the United States and some form of guarantee that it will not be subjected to future aggression. The ruling clique in Pyongyang will most likely ask for substantial financial pay-offs from South Korea in exchange for opening up North Korea to investment and offering up the North Korean working class as a brutally repressed source of cheap labour for transnational corporations.

Beijing is stepping up its diplomatic efforts to pressure Pyongyang not to make any concessions to Washington that undermine Chinese interests. While formally endorsing the proposed talks, it recognises that behind the moves by US imperialism toward a rapprochement with North Korea is its broader strategy of preventing China from developing as a rival centre of global economic and military power.

The day before meeting with Pompeo, Kim Jong-un was flown to the northern Chinese city of Dalian for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping—his second meeting with Xi in two months

4--Putin prioritizes economic breakthrough, quality of life in swearing-in speech 


It is the harmonious unity of a free citizen, a responsible civil society and a powerful and responsible democratic state in which I see the solid foundation for Russia’s future development,” the president said.
Our main goal that Russia, the country of opportunities for its people, allows for self-realization of every person” Putin said, adding that he personally saw a deep connection between the major nationwide objectives and the tasks that ordinary people set before themselves on a daily basis


 5-- North Korean leader meets Chinese President for the first time since historic Korean talks


6--Seoul proposes audacious inter-Korean trade initiative with China and Russia


Then comes the clear statement of what the red lines are, and what in the event of armed conflict China will do
China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral.If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China and North Korea have a defence treaty which they agreed with each other in 1961 and which is still active.  Article 2 of the treaty reads as follows
The Contracting Parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either of the Contracting Parties by any state. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states jointly and thus being involved in a state of war, the other Contracting Party shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.

7-- Korean-Russian Regional Cooperation Forum


7---China and n Korea now on the same page

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to talk to President Trump about “phased and synchronous measures” to deal with their nuclear standoff, Chinese state media reported Tuesday after Kim made his second visit to China in as many months. 

This wording, coupled with Kim’s desire to “eventually achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula,” will ring alarm bells in Washington as it reinforces suspicions that the North Korean leader will ask Trump to take simultaneous steps to reduce tensions.
Kim is expected to meet Trump some time in the next month for what would be the first meeting between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader. ...

Trump has said that Kim’s sudden interest in talking is the direct result of the United States’ “maximum pressure” policy on the North Korean regime.
Many analysts agree that this is as least part of the reason for Kim’s sudden about-face. But they say it is also because the 34-year-old North Korean leader, having achieved his goal of developing a credible nuclear weapons program, is now turning his attention to the economy.
Kim announced a “simultaneous push” policy in 2013 of developing the nuclear program and the economy at the same time...

.” South Korea has repeatedly said that the North is willing to discuss its nuclear program in talks with the United States, although “denuclearization” has not been defined. The language in the April 27 agreement has many American analysts worried that Kim will insist on U.S. military drawdowns from South Korea as part of any deal...

“I do think North Korea would have a very strong interest to pivot to economic development,” Zhao said. “In this regard it would have a strong motivation to build much stronger economic ties with China, South Korea and Russia.” 
The South Korean government is exploring ways to increase economic cooperation with North Korea without breaching international sanctions or earning the ire of Trump. Reports from the Chinese-North Korean border suggest that Chinese authorities have already lost much of their enthusiasm for enforcing existing sanctions.

But Xie of Gavekal Dragonomics said that, deep down, Kim knows Washington and Seoul are unlikely to lift sanctions anytime soon and that he has to rely on China to provide economic relief. 
By receiving Kim twice in such a short span of time and flaunting the bilateral ‘traditional friendship,’ Beijing is demonstrating that the two countries’ positions are now fully aligned and discord is a thing of the past,” she said.

8--Pipeline diplomacThe normalization of the North Korean crisis may pave the way for resuming the project involving the construction of a gas pipeline that would connect Russia and the two Koreas, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said on Friday.


9--Judge says Special Counsel Mueller seeks to oust Trump


10--Iran nukes and the politics of Eurasian integration


Key hub

The geopolitical consequences are massive. To start with, strategically, Washington is isolated. The only actors applauding the decision to rip up the deal are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
As Iran is a key hub of the ongoing Eurasia integration process, the trade-investment partnership with both Moscow and Beijing will be even stronger as Asia Times has reported.
On the military front, nothing will prevent Russia from supplying Iran with S-400 missile systems or China with its “carrier-killers.”...

The real US objective – way beyond the JCPOA’s technicalities – was always geopolitical. And that meant stopping to Iran from becoming the leading power in Southwest Asia.
That still applies as seen by the United States Central Command’s recent drive “to neutralize, counterbalance and shape the destabilizing impact Iran has across the region…” Or, in Trump terminology, to curtail Iran’s “malign activities.”

CENTCOM commander, Gen. Joseph Votel, went straight to the heart of the matter when he told the US House Armed Services Committee in February that “both Russia and China are cultivating multidimensional ties to Iran … Lifting UN sanctions under the joint comprehensive plan of action opens [the] path for Iran to resume application to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”
In a nutshell, this betrays the entire project which is to thwart the Eurasia integration process, which features Russia and China as peer competitors aligning with Iran along the New Silk Roads.

Predictably, we are back to the late Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard.
“…Potentially the most dangerous scenario would be an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by complementary grievances … a grand coalition of China, Russia, perhaps Iran … reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time, China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower,” he wrote. “Averting this contingency … will require US geostrategic skill on the western, eastern, and southern perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously.


11-- Denuclearization?

South Korea has no choice or say in the matter. The US, since the original 1950 UN Security Council Resolution authorizing a UN force to combat the North, has been the designated leader of the UN expeditionary forces in South Korea. As such, the Pentagon has retained control over the South Korean military and has a UN-sanctioned right to have troops occupying South Korean territory (with immunity from South Korean law). That’s why Trump was able to order the placing of highly controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile batteries in South Korea over the objections of both the South Korean people and the government of Moon Jae-in — missiles that would be of little or no use against any North Korean attack, but which actually threaten and target China, much like the anti-missile batteries that the US has installed in Eastern European countries which it continues to insist publicly are to defend against non-existent Iranian missiles, but which actually pose a deadly threat of a potential first strike against Russia.

12--Majority of Americans see special counsel investigation as politically motivated: Poll


A new survey out Tuesday shows that over half of Americans see the special counsel’s investigation into collusion claims as politically motivated.
The poll from CBS News shows 53 percent believe politics are behind the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, while 44 percent say the investigation is justified.

A majority also say, however, that Mr. Trump should cooperate with Mr. Mueller, but by a slightly smaller percentage than earlier this year. In January, 84 percent of people said Mr. Trump should cooperate, while the latest poll shows that number down to 76 percent.
The shift is largely among Republican voters. In January, 73 percent said Mr. Trump should cooperate, but that number has shifted to 53 percent




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